Required reading lists: real or myth?

Good morning/afternoon/evening, fellow bookworms!

Now one thing I’ve noticed is that a lot of people online (I’ll be honest, this is mainly from reading captions on Bookstagram posts) seem to have “required reading lists” from their schools. But that wasn’t a thing when I was at school…not at my school, anyway.

If you’ve read my post from a few days ago (a rant about a library that wasn’t a library), you’ll know that, in my opinion, my old secondary school had some odd ideas about things. Mainly the library.

So I wasn’t sure if it was just my old school that didn’t seem to have required reading lists. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t as though we never read books in school, it’s just that we were never given a list of books that we had to read or even a list of recommended books relevant to a subject.

In my first year of secondary school, I remember our English teacher telling us that we had to always bring a book with us and throughout my 5 years of school, there were random English lessons where we would just sit and silently read a book of our choice for the full hour.

The only books I remember having to read for school are Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird , John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men and J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls (‘m not sure if this last one counts as it is technically a play, but I actually really enjoyed reading and watching this, so I’m including it anyway).

Both Of  Mice and Men and An Inspector Calls, we read in class, going round the room and taking it in turns to read a paragraph aloud (I used to hate this – I had to count ahead and work out which paragraph was mine, long before it was actually my turn to read). But I don’t think this counts as “required reading”, certainly not in the way that I mean, because we didn’t actually have to go away and read them ourselves, all of the reading was done in lessons (only I bought myself a copy of Of Mice and Men and re-read it – my old English teacher would be proud).

However, To Kill a Mockingbird was different. We started off by reading this in class, but then, as everyone reads at different paces, were given several months to finish the books. We were given some lesson time to read this too (e.g. “if you finish your essay, just read To Kill a Mockingbird until the end of the lesson”), so, again, I really don’t think this counts. Side note: I found my copy of this on my bookshelf earlier this year (see the featured image) so it looks like I never handed it back in; belated apologies to my old English teacher, who will never see this post. 

It goes without saying that college was different. In History, we were given lists of suggested reading; both fiction and non-fiction books based on the time period of each paper we studied for (The Tudors, Luther and the German Reformation and the Witchcraze). Surprise, surprise, I actually read some of the books on these lists. And kept the lists for future reference.

Obviously, if I had taken a course such as English Literature at college, this would have been different and I would have been issued with a list of books I needed to read. But, like I said, college is different to school and lists of required reading would not be necessary in a lot of subjects.

So to conclude this longer-than-intended blog post, I’m not sure if required reading lists are real (in schools). Maybe it was just my school or maybe it’s just in the UK that they’re not a big thing, who knows?

Did your school give you lists of required reading? Leave a comment, along with your country, down below! Let’s discover whether this is a myth or a real thing!

Elanor 🙂

bookish gift ideas

Hello and welcome, fellow bookworms!

Obviously, when buying presents for a bookworm, it can be difficult to buy them a book, unless they give you a specific title that they’d like, as you probably don’t know every single book they own. But never fear! I have compiled a gift guide (complete with links to buy the products) to help!

1. A chocolate frog magnetic bookmark for that Harry Potter obsessed friend:

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I’ll be honest, I’m considering buying myself one of these – they look so cool! They can be purchased here.

2. For the stationary-obsessed bookworm

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I am yet to meet a lover of books who is not also a lover of stationary! Penguin sell several notebooks, featuring the cover of one of their classics. My personal favourite is shown in the image above. The rest of the collection can be found here.

3. For the bookworm with a lot to carry

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Tote bags are super cute and a great, practical gift! This one is adorable, but there are loads of different ones available, featuring quotes from books and more! The one shown above can be purchased here.

4. For the tea or coffee drinker (or collector of mugs)

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This is a mug that I’d love and know would go down well with friends of mine that love reading. There are so many book themed mugs available, it’s impossible to compile images of them all. The Matilda “I’m wondering what to read next” mug can be bought here. A wider range of book themed mugs, including those featuring the cover of a book or based on a certain book, can be browsed here.

5. For the friend that’s difficult to buy for

If all else fails, you can always buy your friend a book voucher/gift card to enable them to purchase a book which they want. Gift cards can usually be purchased from mainstream bookstores such as W. H. Smiths or Waterstones and some supermarkets may even sell these!

6. For the wearer of jewellery

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Cute book-themed pieces of jewellery are relatively easy to find online. Pieces like the necklace above will go down brilliantly with the friend who wears a great deal of jewellery, or even the friend who only wears it on special occasions. You could search for jewellery specific to a book or series that you know your friend loves, or buy a piece which is a little less specific, but still book-themed. The above necklace can be purchased here.

7. For the lover of quotes/home decor

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Framed quotes such as the one above, from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings make great presents! Whether it is a quote you know your friend loves or a quote taken from a book you know they enjoyed, there are plenty available to choose from. You could even buy a frame and hand-write or type a quote and make your own gift! The one above can be found here.

 

I hope this gift guide helped a little! I plan to make a more themed bookish gift guide when it is nearer to Christmas, so keep an eye out for more ideas!

Happy browsing!

Elanor 🙂

My Pottermore Sorting Results

Hiya fellow bookworms!

You may have gathered from my blog posts that I am a massive Harry Potter fan! When I first heard about Pottermore, I immediately took the Sorting Hat test and was placed in Ravenclaw (by some miracle). But it has since then been updated/redone/changed and I lost my account so a couple of months ago, I retook the Sorting Hat test and was sorted into Hufflepuff, which I think is a far more accurate result (I have Hufflepuff pjs, surely that proves something).

I thought it would be fun to write a blog post of the rest of my Sorting Hat results and my patronus…so here goes!

My Hogwarts House: Hufflepuff

According to Pottermore, the house ghost of Hufflepuff (the Fat Friar) is still bitter about the fact that he was never made a cardinal. I’m not sure why this fact makes me giggle so much…maybe because it just makes me think of Cardinal Wolsey (I studied Tudor history at A-Level).

I think that the fact that both Cedric Diggory and Tonks (don’t call her Nymphadora) came from Hufflepuff is very important. Tonks left her newborn baby to go and fight against Voldemort, who Cedric Diggory was killed by – you can’t say Hufflepuffs lack courage (take that, Gryffindor 😉 ). Oh and Newt Scamander was a Hufflepuff, need I say anymore?

Plus, Hufflepuffs are known for being trustworthy and loyal, AKA perfect friends! And their common room is basically next to the kitchens, talk about a perfect location.

My Ilvermorny House: Thunderbird

I’m not going to lie, I’m not really that interested in my Ilvermorny house and I don’t really know that much about it as a result of this.

According to Pottermore, the Thunderbird traits are “represents the soul” and “favours adventurers”, but again, I’m more interested in my Hogwarts house!

My Wand

  • 11″ long
  • Made of Ash wood – apparently ash wands lose power if passed on from the original owner, so there go my plans of handing it down to a family member in my will…
  • Core of unicorn hair – according to Pottermore, wands with this core tend to be the most difficult to turn to the Dark Arts (ideal for a Hufflepuff then – Hufflepuff supposedly produces the smallest number of dark witches/wizards)
  • Brittle flexibility

My Patronus: A Dolphin

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At one point, when I was younger, dolphins were my favourite animals (my cousin had quite an obsession with them and I picked up on it and started reading stories about them). I think dolphins are really beautiful and would look even more so as a silvery patronus…I’m pretty pleased with this result!

 

So, on the whole, I’m quite happy with my Pottermore Sorting results. Have you taken the Pottermore Sorting test? What results did you get?

Share them with me in the comments!

Elanor 🙂

 

(P.S. For those interested, the gif which is set as the featured image is taken from A Very Potter Musical, which can be found on YouTube – if you haven’t watched it, I would definitely recommend that you do! It’s amazing!)

 

a rant about a library that wasn’t really a library

I’m back again, fellow bookworms!

This time, I’m here with a rant/story/possible discussion topic about the library of my old school.

I left school a few years ago. That sentence alone feels weird to type (is it possible to feel old at 18? I’m asking for a friend…).

My old school was odd. When I first went to look around, they were in the process of moving the library from the newer part of the school, into the older part so that the vacated space could be made into a computer suite. Fair enough..?

By the time I started, this move had been completed. But the library never seemed to be used. In all honesty, I didn’t really care until my last few years at school, when I began to question why we had a library that no one was allowed to borrow books from (this is the whole point of a library, why my school didn’t seem to understand this, I’ll never know).

In my final year, a group of my friends and I, became school prefects (we got to sit in the warmth and yell at people for being in the corridors at lunch; it was a great responsibility). One of the perks of this was the fact that our spot for prefect duty was right by several classrooms, which allowed us to question the library situation.

The response we received was that there was no one who could be responsible for recording the borrowing and returning of books. Which was a pretty ridiculous excuse!

Some of you may be thinking that maybe the library was made use of during lessons instead. It wasn’t. Oh, the room itself was used, it was set out with desks and a whiteboard, with books all the way around the walls, and yet the only time we used it for lessons was to hold the lesson in there (e.g. for a debate, as the room was bigger than our classrooms). But we didn’t use the books.

The kids that struggled a little more and maybe needed help with their reading etc. sometimes sat in the library, with a teacher and read a book. But no one borrowed any…or even used them to work on school projects.

If anything, our library was used more as a meeting place. Prefect or school mentor meetings were usually held there, along with occasional governor meetings. But surely that isn’t the point of a library?

You may think this post is over-dramatic (lol) but honestly, this really got to me. Surely the whole point of a library, especially in a school, is for students to borrow and read books and carry out their own research? I just don’t understand why this didn’t happen at my school.

Was this a thing at anyone else’s school, or was it just mine? Obviously, I left a few years ago and things may have changed since then, but this is how it was when I was there. Weird, right?

Elanor 🙂

 

5 amazing libraries I’d love to visit

Good day, fellow bookworms!

Personally, I find it sad when libraries don’t get used and end up being shut down – it’s such a waste. A friend told me recently that one of my local libraries (I say local, it’s at least 30 minutes drive away – there are two that are much nearer), is going to be shut down and we agreed that we need to befriend the librarians at our old college, somehow become librarians ourselves and save this library…all within a matter of months. As we’ve both finished college and are working, this obviously isn’t a very realistic aim, but we can dream.

Back to the point. In short: I wish more people would use libraries and discover what fab places they are! I’ll admit, I rarely use libraries to borrow books anymore, but I do like sitting in them to read (they’re so peaceful!) and I would definitely use them more, if it was easier for me to get to them.

But there are so many unique and amazing libraries, all over the world, that I would love to visit, so I decided to list my top 5 in this post. So here goes…enjoy!

1. Liverpool Central Library, UK

I’m 99% sure that this library is open to the public and it looks AMAZING. I mean, look at that ceiling and all that reading space for start!

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Imagine sitting down in there to read! I could stay there all day!!

2.  Library of Birmingham, UK

This is a library I’d visit based on the exterior alone; look how cool this looks!

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But, obviously, the interior of the library is the main feature and, equally, I’d love to visit based on this too! I genuinely think I could get lost in here – not that I’d complain!

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3. University Library Heidelberg, Germany

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I used to study German in school and, I’ll admit, I quite enjoyed it and even went to Germany twice (my friends complained when I dragged them into a German bookshop with me). But I definitely don’t remember enough of it to read a whole book in German! But imagine sitting inside this library, reading your own book or browsing the books there. I can’t find a photo of the interior of this library but the exterior is amazing!

4.  Wiblingen Monastery Library, Ulm, Germany

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Another German library! I’m not sure if this library is open to the public as it is in part of an old monastery, which now contains a university’s medical school, but it’s beautiful! I’d love to go and visit, even if it was just a brief visit. I have a group of friends who I’m planning a trip to Germany with and I definitely need to add this to our list of places to visit!

5. George Peabody Library, Baltimore, USA

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This photo reminds me slightly of Leeds Royal Armouries (definitely worth a visit) and I think it looks fab! I’m not the biggest fan of heights, but with so many books to be browsing, I doubt I’d even notice how high up I was!

So there are my top 5 libraries that I’d love to visit! If I ever visit one, I’ll definitely blog about it! Knowing me, I’ll have found another library that I want to visit within a few days 😀

Do you have a  particular library which you’d love to visit?

Elanor 🙂

 

(Disclaimer: Obviously as I have never visited any of these libraries and I’m not that good of a photographer, none of these photos are mine – they have all been taken from the website of the individual library). 

sticking to your book buying ban (please help)

I’m back again, fellow bookworms!

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a tendency to hoard books. Which, understandably, is an issue when I have a book wishlist longer than my arm. I’ve placed myself on a book buying ban until I have sorted out my bookshelves and (maybe) donated some books to charity shops so that I have room for more.

But there are so many books that I want to read! And on top of all of those, I have my tbr pile (which never seems to get any smaller) and I’m still sat here wanting to re-read at least 4 different series (The Lord of the Rings, The Infernal Devices, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games for those interested).

Thankfully, I am now working full time, five days a week, which means I only have weekends in which I could go out and buy books. Or I could just buy them online (someone stop me).

I’m struggling. I’m trying to stop myself from buying more books by reading those which are on my tbr pile but there are just SO MANY BOOKS that I want to buy and read all at once.

I went into town with my boyfriend at the weekend, and forced myself to walk past the bookshop (twice!!) without going in. I’ve lasted 5 days so far without breaking my ban, let’s see if I can keep it up!

Wish me luck!

Elanor 🙂

 

5 tips on buying books from charity shops

Hello again, fellow bookworms!

Now I don’t know about you, but I buy the vast majority of my books from charity shops (or secondhand from eBay, but that’s for another post). I’m lucky in the sense that where I live, there is a large number of charity shops to browse through. However, picking up good books can sometimes be difficult…but I’m here to help!

1. Know which books you’re looking to buy. 

If you go along with a list (metal or physical) of the book or books which you really want to read, you’re more likely to find a copy. Many charity shops, or at least, the bigger ones, organise their books alphabetically, according to the surname of the author, so if you have this, along with the book title written down or memorised, you’ll find it easier to search and find what you’re looking for.

2. Take a friend with you.

This works particularly well if your friend isn’t a big reader (or is on a book buying ban) as you can rope them in to help you search. Two pairs of eyes are better than one!

3. Consider the price & condition.

Unfortunately, many charity shops sell books at fairly high prices. When you find a book which you are looking to buy, be sure to check the condition it is in (are there any ripped pages, has it been written in etc.) and weigh up whether it is a fair price for the condition. In some cases, you may be better off buying the book brand new as it can only be a few pounds more, for a book in perfect condition.

4. Be a frequent visitor.

Most charity shops are receiving donations regularly and rotating their stock. If you are unable to find what you’re looking for, come back in a few days and try again!

5. Speak to the staff/volunteers.

It’s likely that they’ll have an idea where you may be able to find a particular book/author. If you’re visiting frequently enough, they may even agree to put a copy to one side for you if any come in. In some cases, they may be able to check their stock in the back of the shop for the book you are looking for. Obviously, this is dependant on the individual staff member/volunteer, but it’s worth a try!

I hope these tips are useful!

Happy browsing!

Elanor 🙂